Solving First Base

Albert Pujols
Mark Teixeira
Kevin Youkilis
Shea Hillenbrand
Jason Giambi
Jeff Conine
Todd Walker
Scott Konerko

What do all these guys have in common? Well they all had enough at bats at first base last year to qualify for the batting title, and secondly they all played third base at some point in their minor or major league career. That represents 33% of the eligibly first baseman, not an insignificant percentage by any measure. There are also some outstanding fielders there, in Pujols and Tex, as well as some horrendous ones, Giambi and Hillenbrand. Now what does this have to do with the Yankees? Well this is preparation for who I would like to see as our opening day first baseman...Morgan Ensberg. Today at Baseball Prospectus Nate Silver did an article analyzing the Yankees first base options. He basically stated that if Doug Mientkiewicz or Mark Loretta are your options then you might as well play Phelps or Phillips as both are projected to put up better numbers next year. Phelps is projected at a .271 Eqa, while Phillips is at .265, both of those are better than the .257 and .255 that Mark and Doug are projected at.

My contention is why settle for league average when you could do much better. Ensberg posted an EQA of .296 last season and has averaged a .290 over his career. He is a righty power bat with very good patience. Also more importantly he could be had relatively cheap. The Astros have seemed to sour on him due to the low batting average. Personally I dont care about batting average at all and if the Astros would rather have Huff at third than Ensberg than it should be our job to take advantage of that. That brings us to what it might take to get Morgan. Personally I think an offer of Jeff Karstens, Brett Gardner, and Steven White should be proficient. Karstens could slot in now as their number 5, Gardner gives them a center field option going forward. He will probably never hit for much power but neither did Willy Taveras and at least Gardner takes an occasional pitch. White also gives them a solid pitcher who could, if it works out, mature into a pretty nice #3 in the NL. He is a power righty, although not in the same class as Hughes or Sanchez.

Now the Astros will probably come back and ask for Melky, as most teams seem to do, if they do this I would go out and ask for some pitching in return either the 21 year old lefty Troy Patton or the 30 year old Brad Lidge. That is my newest solution for the first base issue although I reserve the right to change my mind if anything better comes along.


Kei Igawa

I have found since creating this that trying to follow all of baseball is wayyyy to difficult so I am going to concentrate on the Yankees primarily from here on out with an occasional article about something else interesting in baseball. My goal of this piece is to try and project what can be expected of Igawa for this upcoming season. For the purpose of this projection I will look at him as a starter although I wouldn't be suprised if he took over somewhat of a Ramiro Mendoza role as a long reliever and spot starter, depending on the health of Pavano and Randy Johnson.

Igawa is listed at around 6'0-6'1 and 200-215 pounds he throws left handed and is 27 years old. Here is a look at some of his rates last season as well as over his career:
K/9: 8.49
HR/9: .84
BB/9: 2.85
ERA: 3.14

Last Season:
K/9: 8:35
HR/9: .73
BB/9: 2.11
ERA: 2.97

His 2006 was a very very good season as he improved on most of his rates. His career K rate is higher due primarily to 2004 where he struck out 10 batters per 9 IP. That was his only season over 9. To figure out how Igawa will make the transition i will look at players who came over from the Japanese leagues to the MLB and look at how their rates changed between the two leagues. I tried to stick to pitchers who had a substantial amount of innings in both Japan and the US. Unfortunately I cannot get HR totals for a lot of the Japanese players so I will not be able to analyze that stat.

So if we apply those changes to Igawa's numbers from last season we get these rates for his MLB equivalent:

K/9: 7.07
BB/9: 1.98
ERA: 3.72

That would be awesome as our number five starter. This method is obviously not perfect as it doesnt consider how different a lot of these pitchers were. At first glance I would expect the walks to be a little worse. I am still very confused how on the average the Japanese pitchers walks actually decreased. That one boggles me a bit. Another thing to be a little leery of is that Igawa gave up a decent amount of HR's in his time in Japan. To get a better prospective on what can be expected lets look at what some other people projected for Igawa:

SG using CHONE
4.44 ERA 7.35 K/9 2.97 BB/9 1.18 HR/9

Sturgeon General
4.15 ERA 7.48 K/9 2.55 BB/9 1.19 HR/9

They project worse ERA's, although still respectable, our K rates seem to be close and their walk numbers seem to be a lot more realistic. So overall lets take a rough average of all the numbers and say 4.15 era 7.30 K/9 2.5 BB/9 1.0 HR/9. Number five starters dont normally get as many innings as the top of the rotation guys. So lets say he gets 30 starts next year. For arguments sake lets also say he gets 6.333 innings a start. That would put his raw numbers at this:

30 GS 190 IP 4.15 ERA 154 K 53 BB 21 HR

On this Yankee team that could easily get him 17-18 wins. So after doing this whole excercise I am a little more optimistic on Igawa then I was when I came in. He could be a very good pickup. He cost half as much as Matsuzaka and seems like he will be at least half the pitcher Dice-K will be. I could see him putting numbers up similar to Pettite's first time with the Yanks which no Yankee fan would not like.


Yankees Offseason Part Deux

The offseason has started out with a furey at least as far as hitters are concerned. It looks like this offseasons spending will surpass almost all estimates. The Yankees so far have dealt away two players they had almost no need for, for a bunch of useful young arms. I like both moves by Cashman a lot. Unfortunately they didn't fix any of the Yankees needs at the big league level. Now it looks like the Yankees still need a righty first baseman, a lefty reliever, and a backup catcher.

I think the reasons the Yanks have been so dormant so far is compensation. They didnt plan on being players for any of the big name guys so why waste draft picks on non impact players. I expect the Yankees to wait until after the December 1st deadline to start signing guys. The first need out there is a backup catcher, and their seems to be a perfect fit on the free agent market.

Greg Zaun is 36 years old and seems to be used to the backup role. He has excellent plate discipline and is a good enough reciever on defense. He got himself a ring in 1997 and hasnt sniffed the postseason since. I bet he would love a competitive team. The Blue Jays seem set to sign Rod Barajas and the other teamed rumored the have had interest, the Royals, just traded for another catcher. I think Zaun could be had for 2 years at about 3 million per. That might seem to be a lot for a backup but Zaun would give the Yankees the first legitimate backup catcher since Posada was backing up Girardi. It would give Torre the option of resting Posada without losing too much offense.

First base is a little harder position as their isnt any great fits on the market. The Yanks need a righty to balance out their lineup a little bit and a good fielder would be good too. Craig Wilson would have been a good option but he just didnt look comfortable as a Yankee and Torre didnt seem to trust him. The free agent market also offers Hillebrand and Aurillia. Hillebrand I have no interest in as he should be restricted to DH, not to mention his cranky attitude. Aurillia would be a great addition but he is a type A free agent and it seems like the Giants may pluck him up before December 1st. That would leave the Yankees to explore trades for a first baseman. One team that could be a really attractive trade option is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Their first base situation is packed with Ty Wigginton at the MLB level and Joel Guzman, Wes Bankston and Elijah Dukes all minor league options. The team seems to be planning on using Dukes at first to get his bat in the lineup that would lead me to believe Wigginton and Bankston could be available. Lucky for the Yanks they are righties. They also all have their pros and cons.

Wes Bankston- He is a 22 year old righty first baseman from Texas, who finished last season at AAA Durham. He would be the most attractive option due to his age, which also means he would be the most expensive. The downside is also he doesnt seem to be ready yet, he probably needs another half season in AAA before he is ready. He did hit .297/. 333/.441 in just about 200 at bats at Durham last season. However he only slugged five homeruns and he needs more plate discipline.

Ty Wigginton- He is coming off his best year as a pro and is still on the right side of 30, however he stills show very little plate discipline to go with the power. His fielding is pretty much average as he posted a rate of 96 over his career at first base. He could look good at the bottom of the Yankees order but the DRays may want to gamble that last year was for real and keep him, as he is still cheap. Bill James projects a .268/.328/.445 year for Ty with 21 homers and 33 doubles.

If I was Cashman I would offer a package of Steven White, Chris Britton, and a low level prospect for Bankston and then go sign a less attracttive free agent such as Doug Mientkeivicz to fill the hole while Bankston develops.

Here are some other free agent options that I am not crazy about but could work. I added their projections for next season from the Bill James handbook.

Travis Lee- Lee is a former Devil Ray free agnet who could be an attractive option. Lee was atrocious last season but he is still only 31 and plays very good defense. He probably shouldnt be a teams only option at first but I still think he could hit .260 or so with 15 homers and 25 doubles. .245/.329/.395 84 G 6 HR 10 2B

Doug Mientkiewicz- Dougie is one of the top three fielding first baseman in baseball, too bad his bat was never good enough to make him good. He just doesnt have enough power to be play a power position on a good team. He could be had real cheap but he is a lefty who would make our lineup even more unbalanced. .264/.356/.401 100 G 6 HR 20 2B

Kevin Millar- The Ex-Sock is one of the most attractive options IMHO. He hits righty plays good enough defense and is one of the better hitters of the bunch and one of the few who could deliver average-above average production for a first baseman. Also I would like to see how well he does when reunited with his buddy Damon. He may be reluctant though to go to the Yankees and to lose his fans in Boston. .275/.364/.447 114 G 13 HR 25 2B

Eduardo Perez- He kills lefties and that is really the best thing you can say about him. He is a butcher in the field and is nothing special against righties. He could be an attractive option on our bench but as it looks like we will carry 12 pitchers it is a luxury we cant afford. .247/.330/.438 84 G 9 HR 10 2B

As you can see it isnt the greatest year to be looking for a first baseman. If we sign a one year stop gap next year we could go after Carlos Guillen or Adam Dunn. Overall the options are uninspiring but after Cashman got something for Jaret Wright I would like to see how he fills this hole.

The last major hole on the Yanks is in the bullpen. They need a second lefty, it would be ideal if he could also get righties out and occasionally go long innings. We basically need to replace Villone. I think the Japanese guy Kei Igawa would be perfect in this role as spot starter and second lefty, and it sounded like the Yankees put in a bid on him but I doubt they would slide him into the bullpen as that would probably make his conversion even more difficult. The free agent options are sparse their are very few guys who can get both out the list of lefty relievers is full of guys who have been Yankees before (Chris Hammond, Buddy Groom, Alan Embree). I will trust Cashman here. Maybe he can get Drombowski back on the phone and talk about Will Ledezma who would be absolutely perfect.

The last thing I have to say about this offseason is I hope the Yankees bring Dotel back. He was very good and should be fully healed this upcoming season. It would be a shame to have paid him to rehab and then have him go and dominate on another team. He also seemed to genuinely like the Yankees we need more guys like that.


The trade season officially begun

Yesterday the first major move of the offseason took place. The San Diego Padres traded 23 year old Josh Barfield to the Cleveland Indians in return for Kevin Kouzmanoff and right handed reliever Adam Brown.

I like this trade on both sides. The Indians have a very good offense and Kouzmanoff really didnt have any spot in it. He was blocked by Marte at third, Garko at first, and Hafner at DH. Kevin has hit everywhere he has gone in the minors. He has a career minor league line of .333/.396/.561. He is also coming off a fantastic year. However he has been hampered by back problems and he will turn 26 next season. In return the Indians got Barfield who fills their second base vacancy admirably, and leaves the Indians with an infield that are all 25 and under. Barfield had a good rookie year but I believe his numbers were hampered a lot by playing in Petco. Petco seriously suppresses right power, with Cleveland I expect his power numbers to increase pretty significantly. He also has above average stolen base ability. I see the Indians opening the year with a lineup something like this:
CF-Grady Sizemore
2B-Josh Barfield
DH-Travis Hafner
C-Victor Martinez
1B-Ryan Garko
3B-Andy Marte
SS-Jhonny Peralta
LF-Shin-Soo Choo

If they can acquire some bullpen help and a better right fielder they will be my favorites for the central.

On the Padres side they filled their third baseman hole with a guy who can purely hit. They also got a promising reliever. Most Padres fans I have heard from seem to think this is an indicator that the Pads are going to acquire Marcus Giles. That would give them a very good lineup and would keep them competitive in the up and coming West.

Overall I liked this trade from both sides. This is my first writeup and after now I will probably only look at the major moves. If you need more coverage of the offseason I would reccomend http://mlbtraderumors.com


Offseason 2- Yankees

I was originally planning on waiting on this one for a little and doing some other teams first. However, it looks like that won't be a possibility as I expect the Yankees to start making moves this week. The Yankees are in an interesting position where they had the best record in baseball but really can't sit back and play the same lineup. They need young power pitchers and those are real hard to come by. That is why the first thing the Yankees need to make sure to do is win the posting for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

I know there is a lot of concern that he is just going to turn into Hideki Irabu, but you have to take the risk. Cashman should try to feel out what the market is going to be for him and then bid 5 million more. Make sure you win him even if it means you waste a little money. The Yanks are the favorite to get him so far but I would not be suprised if Tom Hicks decided to make a very large offer out of the blue. The Yankees need Matsuzaka and they have the money to make it happen.

Next thing the Yankees need to work out is Gary Sheffield. It seems like his option will be picked up just to trade him and their are a lot of teams that could have interest. I have read that the Yankees turned down an offer of Kris Benson and a reliever, so I will consider that the minimum offer. The best thing about trading Gary is that it enables the Yanks to keep him away from the Mets and Red Sox. Personally my preference would be to move him to the NL but getting him out of the East would be good enough. The Yankees should be looking for prospects and pitching in return. Some of the teams that have been rumored to have had interest are the Rangers, Indians, Cubs, Phillies, Braves, Padres, Giants and Astros. The Cubs and Phillies are the most intense after him. Each of these teams has interesting pieces that they could offer in return. From the Rangers I would want one of the DVD trio, from the Indians one of their young arms such as Carmona and Betancourt. I would prefer him go to the NL though and here are some guys I would love from each team listed:

Cubs-Bobby Howry, Mark Prior, Scott Eyre: Howry and Eyre are bullpen guys who have proven themselves. Howry has experience in the AL while Eyre is a reliable lefty. Prior is a buy low candidate as he is one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy. Unfortunately he is never healthy. The Yankees could take him as a salary dump and hope that with some coaching they could fix his delivery and get him healthy. He is still younger than Wang.

Phillies-They supposedly offered Ryan Madsen and that could be a good start to a package. If they sent Madsen and one of their young arms (Carrasco, Maloney, or Gonzalez) that could work. I would also be willing to eat an ugly salary for them if they want. Which may mean taking a Pat Burrel, Arthur Rhodes, or a Jeff Conine.

Braves- Adam LaRoche is a player that interests me a lot. He is coming off a great year in which he showed his defensive prowess as well as outslugging his 90th% Pecota. I would love him and would throw in a couple prospects to make it happen. The only issue their is it would make the Yankees lineup lean further left, which A-Rod and Jeter the only righties. If the Braves weren't willing to part with LaRoche I could be very interested in Jarrod Saltamacchia. Salty is a sweet hitting catcher who is blocked by McCann at catcher and LaRoche at first. I have a feeling either Salty or LaRoche will be dealt and I would love either one.

Padres- I dont know much about the Padres. Other than Scott Linebrink I dont know what would intrigue the Yanks. They could put together a package of prospects.

Giants- The Giants are in the same boat as the Padres. They dont have much that would intrigue the Yankees in my opinion. If they were really interested they could figure it out.

Astros- Brad Lidge is the guy that would interest me most. The Astros have a lot of young pitching that I would be very interested in. Guys like Hirsch, Patton and Albers for starters or Qualls, Wheeler and Springer as relievers.

So that is what I would like to get for Sheffield if the Yanks take any of those packages they would be on their way to a good season. There are a couple other things the Yankees must address. For one a backup catcher. It would be awesome to get a young guy we could groom to take over for Jorge, but if we cant I would like a backup who could hit a little so the offense wouldn't take such a hit when Jorge sits. A guy like Greg Zaun could be the perfect option. They will also need a firstbaseman. Giambi should never touch a glove and I dont think Phillips has enough bat to play the position. I would love to get a glove guy. Someone like Mientkiewicz could work. The Yankees offense can carry a weak bat if the glove makes up for it. Doug could be had real cheap. As for the bullpen Mo, Farnsworth, Proctor, Bruney, and Myers will be back. That leaves two spots open. I would love to bring Dotel back one more time to see if he can put it together now that he is full healed. We also need someone to replace Villones innings. Internally Sean Henn is an option but if the Yanks dont feel he is ready Scott Shoenweis or Justin Spier could do the job admirably. The starting rotation is pretty set if they get DMat. I would explore the trade market and free agency to see if we could snag a more reliable starter for the #3-#4 slot. Randy Johnson probably wont be ready until May and I never count on Pavano. Hughes could be ready mid season and Rasner and Karstens performed well enough to get a chance at a spot. If I was the Yanks I would consider a guy like Gil Meche or Vincente Padilla. Chronic underperformers with good stuff.

So that is my Yankee writeup. Their main needs are:
  1. Starting pitching
  2. Relief Pitching
  3. Good Fielding first baseman
  4. Backup Catcher
  5. Bench guys who can hit a little

If the Yankees adress those needs and get a little younger in the process they will be well on their way to #27. One of my dark horse possibilities is trading Giambi. The Yankees most likely won't do it but it could prove to be a very smart move if they did. It would be the first time the Yankees actually sold while the value was high.


10 moves

Buster Olney at ESPN.com is going to do a 10 moves I would make column later this week and over at MLB Trade Rumors he just put one up today. I like the idea so I am going to steal it. Here are my top 10 moves:

1) Yankees: Trade Gary Sheffield and money to the Cubs for Prior and Howry. The Cubs get an impact outfield bat on the cheap and the Yankees get a very good reliever as well as a high risk high reward pitcher in Prior. It also rights the wrong of not signing him when we first drafted him.

2) Tigers: Sign Barry Bonds to be your DH and part time LF. They just made it to the World Series so the team has some money so they can't just sit on their laurels. Bonds at DH would give them the best OBP hitter in all of baseball to put in the middle of their free swinging lineup. Detroit is also in an ideal situation with Thames and Monroe, that if/when Bonds can't play they have two very capable players to play LF and DH to fill in. Let Bonds play 2 games at DH and 2 games in LF out of every 5 games sitting out the fifth.

3) Marlins: Trade Dontrelle Willis. Dontrelle's value right now is very high but he is coming off a mediocre season. The Marlins have a lot of good young pitching depth so they could absorb a move like this. Dontrelle is going to get another big raise in arbitration and if he has another mediocre season his trade value will drop a lot. I would try and get as many big league ready players as possible for him right now. Don't sell short though nothing below a package equal to Milledge, Pelfrey, and Bannister should be considered. I would trade him to the DRays for Baldelli and a couple prospects

4) San Diego: Sign Barry Zito. Zito in that park with Cameron in center field will be very dangerous. San Diego doesn't have the young talent of LA, Arizona or Colorado but they will be able to compete if their top three is Peavy, Zito, Young. Those three would make them my early favorites for the NL West and in that park Zito would have to be a top choice for NL Cy Young.

5) St Louis: Trade Chris Duncan. Duncan should be a first baseman or a DH, but Pujols blocks him. It will be a hard one to do because of his relation to the pitching coach but they need pitching help and Duncan's value is very high right now. Over at MLBTradeRumors.com he mentions trading him for Mike Gonzalez of the Pirates, that would be the right type of move.

6) Yankees: Sign Matsuzaka. He could basically fix the Yankees pitching problems and yearly will probably cost less than Zito will. The Yankees need to get younger pitching but that is hard to come by. It will be a few years until they can get those guys all from the fam system so Matsuzaka offers a relative young top of the rotation type starter to team with Wang and eventually Hughes. That is the kind of rotation that they need.

7) White Sox: Trade whichever starter will get you the best value. Whether that is Garland, Garcia, Buehrle or Contreras. McCarthy is being wasted in the pen and he really should be starting. The White Sox have some holes they definately need to fill, namely shortstop, left field, and center field. They need to get better in those positions. They can probably cure one or two of those positions from within or free agents but I would move one of the starters to fill them.

8) Astros: Sign Carlos Lee. It will cost a lot and will cost them on defense, but they probably won't have Clemens or Pettite back next season. They will need some offense to be able to compensate for that. Lee slotted in behind Lance Berkman will make that offense considerably better. I would also try to move either Huff or Ensberg, whoever will have higher value. Then I would sign Woody Williams, as a #3 Williams could come cheap and give you quality innings.

9) Phillies: Sign Aramis Ramirez. He will give them one of the best hitting infields in the NL. With that lineup as well as a pitching rotation anchored by Myers, Moyer, and Hamels they could beat the Mets next year. The lineup is almost as good and the pitching is probably better.

10) Everyone: Every team this year needs to be smart spending. Every team is talking about increasing payroll, but their really isn't much worth spending money on. This year is a real weak free agent class and teams are going to be tempted to give big deals to the likes of Jeff Suppan. Teams need to stick to their guns or in a few years they will be dreading the deals they signed this offseason.


Offseason 1-Devil Rays

Now that the season is officially over it is time to start talking about the offseason. I am going to go team by team with what I think they should do. The first team I want to look at is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They are my second favorite team, basically due to the immense young talent they have. When talking about the DRays you aren't in a win now mode but being competitive in 2008 would be the key. Next year not losing 100 games would be a good step. The DRays have some of the best young talent in baseball here is a list of some of there best young guys:

Delmon Young-21-OF(MLB)
Jeff Niemann-23-RHP(AA)
Evan Longorira-21-2B,SS,3B(AA)
Reid Brignac-20-SS(AA)
Jacob McGee-20-LHP(A)
Elijah Dukes-22-OF(AAA)
Wes Bankston-22-1B(AAA)
Joel Guzman-21-3B(AAA)
Elliot Johnson-22-2B(AA)
Chuck Tiffany-21-LHP(AA)
Mitch Talbot-23-RHP(AA)
Ben Zobrist-25-SS(MLB)
BJ Upton-22-SS,3B,OF,?(MLB)

As you can see there is some serious talent in their minor league system. All of those guys could have an impact in the next few years. The problem for the Devil Rays is figuring out how to manage their talent best to get the best value. A lot of these guys have issues whether it is behavior, defense, lack of plate discipline or lack of position. If the Rays are smart in these next two offseasons they could have a shot at the playoffs in 2008.

Their biggest logjam is in the outfield where they already have Baldelli, Crawford, and Gomes in addition to the young guys. Rocco and Crawford are pretty young themselves. This is where my first idea comes into play. Trade Baldelli. All the papers speak of trading Crawford but he is the face of the franchise you should build around him. Baldelli is a solid player making very little, but he is an injury risk. These are the teams I think could be interested in a new centerfielder, Boston, Florida, Colorado, Chicago, Astros, and the Rangers. The Marlins are the team that sticks out the most to me. They are loaded with good young pitchers and that is what the Rays need and want. I would offer Baldelli to the Marlins for Scott Olsen. Olsen has ace stuff and posted a respectable 4 ERA in his first big league season. He will be 23 next season and could slot right behind Scott Kazmir in the rotation to give them two great young lefties with power stuff.

Trading Baldelli would leave a big opening in CF. Baldelli was worth 3.5 wins this season in 88 games, to fill in for that I would let Dukes and Upton fight for the spot. Both of these guys have attitude problems and Upton just wont stick in the infield with his defense. Let them both know now that they will get a shot at the starting CF job. With practice I believe Upton could be a very good centerfielder. PECOTA sees a .284/.368/.468 season for Upton and a .267/.331/.449 season for Dukes. I would think next years PECOTA will be kinder to Dukes as he greatly improved his plate discipline this season. Either of those guys would be above average center fielders. An outfield of Crawford, Dukes/Upton, and Young would be very good next season. That introduces another problem.

What do to with Cantu and Gomes. Gomes and Cantu both had real nifty 2005's posting OPS+'s of 139 and 112 respectively. They both slipped bad last season due to the massive strikeout totals. Their power is real but it will be real hard to keep the average up when they strikeout that much. A team cant afford to keep both of them in the lineup. My plan would be to see if one of them can figure out how to play first base. Whichever one takes to it best trade the other one. There are plenty of teams that could be in the market for some cheap power. I would target some young power bullpen arms. Maybe a guy like Fausta Carmona from the Indians.

This team has plenty of potential and if they deal their assets properly they could be competitive soon. Other guys who could have some small value are Casey Fossum, Travis Harper, Ty Wigginton, Greg Norton. In every trade I would target young power arms and try to build a bullpen out of them. The Red Sox could have interest in Harper or Wigginton, ask for someone like Jermaine Van Buren. I would also look into trading some of the young guys who dont really have a spot such as Zobrist and Guzman.

If these trades go as I planned this would be the 2008 starting lineup:
C-Dioner Navarro
DH-Dukes or any other bats that dont have a position

That lineup could all hit 20 homers and could steal a lot of bases. I count a possible 200 plus stolen bases there with everyone being a 10 SB threat other than the catcher and the first baseman. Now onto the rotation:

Scott Kazmir-L
Scott Olsen-L
Jeff Niemann-R
Jacob McGee-L

Those four all have top of the rotation stuff. Then you could choose your number five from this list:

Chuck Tiffany-L
Mitch Talbot-R
James Shields-R
JP Howell-L
Jason Hamel-R

Whichever guys dont work throw in the bullpen or trade em. This team has a lot of talent and if they use it right and make some smart free agent signings they could be a dangerous team. I guess thats what happens when you always draft in the top 5.

Commissioner for a Day

So last night the Cardinals an 83 win team just won the World Series. Congratulations to them as they played above their collective head this whole playoffs. On the other hand, I don't like bad teams winning. It basically means the regular season doesn't matter that much. In the spirit of the new CBA I am going to list the changes I would make if I was in charge of the league:
  1. Start the season a week earlier, baseball shouldn't be played in freezing weather.
  2. Mandate every team play 7 double headers over the course of the season. The problem with double headers is exhaustion but if you knew you had to play them in advance you could schedule your off days around it.
  3. No more interleague play. It dilutes the all star game and the World Series, and other than a few compelling matchups does anyone want to see the Nationals play the Devil Rays???
  4. No more unbalanced schedule. I don't get why the Yankees have to face the Red Sox 19 times a year it just gets boring by the end. Get rid of that and have every team face every other team equally. I understand there are issues with traveling but I freed up 2 extra weeks in my first two suggestions use 5 of those days as travel days and your set.
  5. Have two wild card teams. It will make the end of the season more interesting and get more people in the playoffs
  6. Have the two wild card teams face off in a three game playoff right after the season. The winner moves on to face the team with the best record.
  7. Make every series other than the wild card one 7 games. Five games is too few to establish whos better. Seven is also too few but its better.
  8. Have the best team face the worst one. If the wild card team and the team with the best record are both from the same division who cares they should still play each other.

Those are my changes and if they were in place I think the season would be a lot more compelling. The season wouldn't be any longer either. While there would probably be five extra off days and 5 extra days of playoffs. I saved two weeks in the first two examples. That would make the world series end four days earlier. Not much of a difference but every little bit counts.


New Labor Agreement

MLB and the MLBPA have come to a new 5 year labor agreement with no stoppage of play. Basically the game is awash with cash and both sides didn't want to mess with a good thing. Here is a link with the specifics but their are a couple I found intersting:

Draft Choice Compensation
1. Type C free agents eliminated in 2006
2. Also in 2006, compensation for type B players becomes
indirect (sandwich pick) as opposed to direct compensation from signing
3. Effective 2007, Type A players limited to top 20 percent
of each position (down from 30 percent) and Type B players become 21 percent -
40 percent at each position (rather than 31 percent - 50 percent).
I think this is a good move. Compensation was a good thing but I feel like it was rewarded for too many players. If you lose an Alfonso Soriano you deserve some compensation but if you lose a Royce Clayton you don't really deserve much. This will make sure teams who lose stars get something back but teams losing scrubs won't get anything. Here was another rule I found intriguing.
"5. Provision requiring revenue sharing recipients to spend receipts to improve on-field performance retained with modifications."

I am not sure what the modifications are but maybe they will finally enforce some source of a salary floor. If a team is recieving 30 million dollars in revenue sharing they should have to use that to improve their team whether through free agents, the draft, or international signees. This money should go to improving the product on the field and not to fattening the owners wallet.


What the writers are saying

Here are some newspapers articles I came across:

Don McKee of the Philadelphia Inquirer says why not trade A-Rod to the Phillies for Pat Burrel straight up? Personally I think this offer is laughable considering the Phillies have been trying to get rid of Burrel all year and we already have a DH and 3 outfielders, throw in Cole Hamels, and youll get my interest.

Peter Abraham over at the Lower Hudson News mentions a couple teams that could use A-Rod and the chips they could use to attain him.

Jim Baubach of Newsday suggests some ideas for fixing the Yankees. His first idea is a noble one, keep A-Rod.

TJ Quinn on the other hand says the Yankees should dump A-Rod for a player like Mark DeRosa. Other than that dumb idea he puts forth some good points.

Whether or not the Yankees trade A-Rod this offseason will be the big story. I could be ok either way I just want my Yanks to be better next season. This is the last Yankee post for a while I will talk about some other teams next. I think next up I will talk about what I think the Devil Rays should do to be better next season and going forward.

Trade A-Rod

Now that its been a little while and I have recovered from the Yankees horrible ALDS, I figured I would look at the hot topic in Yankeeland. To trade or not to trade Alex Rodriguez. To analyze this I will only consider the on field performance, because I dont think the off the field stuff was that big of an issue (the team did almost win 100 games). To analyze value added to the team I will use Win Shares. Its a complicated stat devised by Bill James that tries to compile a players contribution to his team into a single number that represents the number of wins added to the team multiplied by three.

Alex Rodriguez this year contributed 25 WS to the Yankees, only Garret Atkins, Miguel Cabrera, and David Wright contributed more at third base. Both Cabrera and Wright are pretty untouchable and Atkins performance may be slightly flukey. So if the Yankees trade A-Rod and want to be as good next year they will have to see make up his 25 win shares between a few positions. The Yankees were weakest last season in starting pitching and bullpen. So assuming the Yankees sign a free agent third baseman who is decent (think Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, or Joe Randa) they will then want to make up the difference between A-Rod and those guys in what they get in return for A-Rod. Those guys on average contributed between 3 and 18 WS (With DeRosa contributing 18). DeRosa had a bit of a fluke year but lets assume on average these free agent third base options would contribute 5 win shares. That means the Yankees are worse by 20 win shares or about 7 wins.

For the Yankees to still be competitive next year they have to make up for those win shares. This year the Yankees #5 SP's were worth about 2-3 win shares and the back end of there bullpen was worth about 1-2 win shares. This is where I think the Yankees would have to aim to improve. Lets say they traded A-Rod to the Angels and got Ervin Santana, Scot Shields and a prospect. That means next year Santana and Shields would effectively replace Corey Lidle (RIP) and the back of the Yankees bullpen. Shield was worth 11 WS, Santana was worth 13. That means they were worth between 18-20 win shares more than the Yankees current option.

Here lies the issue with trading A-Rod, getting equal value. Getting Ervin Santana and Shields would represent a significant bounty for A-Rod. Teams know he has issues and will probably not want to deal their top guys for A-Rod. This is my biggest issue with the idea. I am not against trading anyone if it will make the Yankees better, but it just doesnt seem like trading A-Rod can make this team better.


ALCS Preview

ALCS PREVIEW: Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers

I'm here to preview the American League Championship Series for you. This matchup is very intriguing as both underdogs ended up prevailing in their ALDS matchups. I'll look at the key factors in the matchup and break them down for you.

Starting Pitching
It's difficult to find a hole in the Detroit playoff rotation of Verlander, Rogers, Robertson and Bonderman (especially after their shutdown of the Yankees in the ALCS) but if there's any staff that has the potential to go toe-to-toe with them it's the Athletics' Zito, Loaiza, Haren and Harden. Going into the playoffs there were a couple about the Detroit staff -- Could Verlander get back to early-season form? Could Kenny Rogers overcome his playoff woes? Both of these were answered with the two pitchers' stong performances against the Yankees. If they can repeat their incredible games, then look for a lot of 0's on the A's scoreboard. The A's counter-argument is their performance against the Twins, posting the lowest ERA of any team in the ALDS, and the Potential of Rich Harden. No one doubts Harden's nasty stuff, but which Harden will the A's get?

Things to look for:
-Kenny Rogers A's Killer: Rogers is a career 25-4 at Network Associates Colliseum
-Which Rich Harden will show up?
First two starts back from the DL (1-0, 8IP, 4H, 1ER)
Third Start (3.2IP, 6ER, 6BB)
-Oakland Strikeout Totals
The Tigers' free-swinging lineup may have trouble with Haren and Harden's strikeout abilities and Zito's ability to get hitters to chase. Detroit batters struck out 1,133 times this season


While most of the focus will be on the pitching staffs, it is here that the biggest difference lies between these two teams. In the second half of the season, Oakland posted an OBP of .360 compared to Detroit's .329. The Tigers' freefall out of first place in the AL Central at the end of the season was more due to their inability to hit down the stretch. While they averaged 5.5 runs per game against the Yankees, they'll be facing a much better staff. Also, will the Tigers pitch to Frank Thomas? Eric Chavez showed signs of waking up behing the Big Hurt in game 3 with his HR and 2 hits, but will it be enough to get the Tigers to challenge Thomas, who has been hitting .298 with 20 HRs since the All-Star break.

Key Points:
-The Tigers hit .309 in the ALCS, the A's hit .245
-Frank Thomas, Craig Monroe, and Curtis Granderson all have 2 HR so far
-The Scoot Factor: Marco Scutaro is leading the playoffs in Doubles (4) and RBI (6)


While the Tigers bullpen stifled the Yankees when they had to, it was really only Jones and Zumaya. This may be enough, however as their starters all have the ability to go deep into games. The A's on the other hand used Duchscherer, Street and Calero as well has having other viable options in the pen. Depth here will benefit the Athletics if they can get to one of Detroit's starters early, but theyre pretty much playing a 7 or 8 inning game if the Tigers put Zumaya out there for high-leverage innings.

Regular Season Bullpen ERAs:
-Oakland 3.62
-Detroit 3.55


The A's defense took a hit when Mark Ellis went down with a broken hand, but their team defense is still excellent, anchored by Eric Chavez at third, who has been making rally-killing plays since the start of the playoffs, and their speedy outfield. The Tigers, however, were the best fielding team in the league during the regular season as measured by fielding efficiency, anchored by Guillen at SS, Rodriguez at C, and Inge at 3B. As was shown in the A's series against the Twins, the team that plays mistake-free baseball is going to win the game (cough -- torii hunter -- cough).

Key Points:
-Detroit Defensive Efficiency - .712
-Oakland Defensive Efficieny - .694
-Oakland led the league in fielding percentage at .986 (Tigers .983)
& Can D'angelo Jiminez fill in for Mark Ellis?


-Rest: Oakland played to a sweep of Minnesota, and the Tigers were done in New York in 4 games. Both teams will be fully rested.
-Momentum: Both teams are riding high after underdog ALCS triumphs.
-Marco Scutaro: Marco has been on fire down the stretch and into the ALCS with 4 2B and coming up clutch with runners in scoring position (.333)
-Frank Thomas: The Big Hurt has been fearsome since the All-Star break (.298, 20HR) and has the ability to put one out at any point, changing the complexion of the game.
-Kenny Rogers - A's Killer: Rogers is a career 21-7 vs. Oakland

My Pick:
Oakland in 6
I think Barry Zito will have incredible success throwing the ball out of the zone enough to win games 1 and 5, and the rest of the staff are a 50:50 shot to lock down the Tigers enough that Frank Thomas and the A's lineup can get to work. This, in addition to my belief that the Tiger pitchers were over their heads in their ALDS matchup. In any case, this series is based solely on pitching.